Shelley E. Kohan

Associate Professor, Fashion Institute of Technology
Shelley E. Kohan has been serving the retail industry for over 30 years working in senior leadership positions across various functions including general management, marketing, operations, merchandising, buying, and human resources. Positions include President Shelmark Consulting, Vice President Retail Consulting RetailNext, Executive Vice President Space NK, Vice President Store Operations Saks Fifth Avenue, Operating Vice President Bloomingdale’s, Director of Logistics Macy’s West, and Regional Director Operations Macy’s West. Kohan is a recognized retail expert appearing in the NBC Nightly News, Fox News, CGTN Global Business News, Wall St. Journal, New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Reuters, Fortune, Chain Store Age, The Robin Report, and other publications. She is a webinar and conference speaker appearing at WWD Digital, WWD 20/20, NRF Big Show,, Future of Stores and RIS Retail Executive Summit. Kohan has been honored as a Top Retail Influencer (2016, 2017, 2018) by Vend University. Kohan teaches as a tenured assistant professor both face-to-face and online classes on topics of retail management, case study method, marketing strategies, leadership development, and fashion business practices. Shelley earned a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree from Penn State University, a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and an associate’s degree in Merchandising and Buying from the Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of New York.
  • Posted on: 01/27/2023

    Tractor Supply is just getting started with its market share grab

    Hal Lawton has been a world-class leader for Tractor Supply. It is really simple. There is a clear value proposition, the company invests in its people with training and hires the right fit, and the company is hyper-focused on the customer. TSC has invested in technologies that are relevant to its market. The good-better-best pricing model has allowed the company to shield itself from severe inflationary pricing. The competitive advantage is that the stores are where the customers are. Hyper-personalization. The store design is a small footprint and has a curated assortment to meet the needs of each specific market.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2023

    Will gambling on a Saks Fifth Avenue flagship casino pay off?

    A big mistake for Saks who keeps trying to add more businesses to its over-stored retail footprint. Citi Field is a much better choice for a casino entity! It’s better for the city and the New York Community and a casino would align better with a sporting/hotel complex.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2023

    Can a hospitality bigwig bring new life to Under Armour?

    There is so much talent in the apparel industry and while a fresh set of eyes is great, the complexities of running a global fashion brand make it a challenge. I'm not sure why Under Armour would go outside the industry. With that said, hospitality makes a great transition from a customer service perspective. Linnartz can lead, so it comes down to the team that surrounds her. It’s a big risk for the company who wants to focus on product and branding.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2022

    Walmart makes a deal to automate and own the last mile

    Walmart's acquisition of Alert Innovation will accelerate the retailer's dominance in grocery delivery. The focus on low-cost and efficient picking will help the bottom line, reduce spoilage, and increase speed to consumers. Local fulfillment benefits the environment which should be more widely marketed by Walmart. The acquisition strategy works well for Walmart's culture and expectations are made clear to partners. Just look at the benefits of's acquisition.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2022

    Can retailers sustain their current delivery practices?

    The sustainability issue for delivery is akin to the same issue for fast fashion. Shein sales this year are projected at $20 billion and Inditex (Zara) just posted revenues up 25 percent with H&M up 20 percent for the first half of 2022. Consumers want sustainable options but they continue to behave in a manner opposite of that idea. For delivery, consumers do not want to wait for goods and they continue to order multiple units of the same style. Returns for online have grown over the past few years adding to the sustainability issue. Retailers can win big by reducing the packaging and using eco-friendly packing materials. These are tangible and visual factors that consumers can see which may positively influence future purchases. Surveyed consumers may say they will spend more on eco-friendly delivery methods, but I will believe it when I see it. Future practices may include transparency in the last-mile delivery so consumers can make a choice based on the actual impact on the environment. For online retailers, the future entails getting color and sizing right for online products thereby reducing the multiple purchasing of the same items.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2022

    Amazon is not letting Walmart and Target get a head start on Christmas

    Retailers should be nervous, the recent Fed interest rate hike has consumers worried about a recession. Retailers want to convert inventory to cash and will worry less about margin over the next three months. The margin ship has sailed for this year. Retailers need to churn through holiday, warm weather and fashion goods so promotions are starting early. Amazon changed the game in terms of the cadence of holiday shopping in 2020 when Prime Day was in October which has forever changed when the holiday season begins. While sales may be slightly higher than last year (projected at 5 percent to 6 percent), it does not cover the increase in inflationary pricing.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2022

    Will Patagonia’s ownership help save the planet and its retail business?

    Patagonia has been the leader and well ahead of the industry in terms of environmentally friendly practices and is one of the first to take on mass consumerism head-on. The move to give the company to a nonprofit to further its mission of positively impacting the climate crisis is a great move and will resonate with the younger generations; customers and employees alike. Purpose alongside profits will win in the long run.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2022

    Is now the right or wrong time for retailers to invest big in their businesses?

    Retailers that do not invest in the right capabilities will be left behind. The question is not whether to invest or not invest but WHERE to invest and NOT invest. The harder question facing retailers today is whether to outsource functions or build in-house. Most retailers that are moving forward and leading the industry have a hybrid model that includes both. Having a specific market strategy and clear brand vision is key; retailers cannot be all things to all people -- that is when capital funding can go down a larger sinkhole.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2022

    Sephora learns an expensive lesson about customer data privacy in California

    Sephora's settlement will be a wake up call for all retailers. Data privacy is increasingly more important as data sharing becomes more prolific. Consumers grow weary of their data being shared unknowingly. Even when consumers "accept" a retailer's policy on privacy, most of them do not read the fine print of the policy. Policies and practices should be transparent and easy for consumers to understand. The opt in process allows a better chance of success for retailers to be transparent about data sharing. Consumers should be protected and have a say in how their data is shared. Most consumers are fine with their favorite retailers using data to create a better shopping experience, so a transparent process for consumers to understand HOW their data is to be used is critical. CA has always been stringent in terms of human resource and consumer protection policy so retailers can be conservative and create policies that align with CA regulations. Play it safe and protect the consumer.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2022

    The Nordstrom tire return story is true

    Nordstrom's culture of service is not easily replicated and many have tried. The reason is that service is embedded in the culture from day one at the company. Countless stories are told each and every day at every store. Storytelling is a visualization easily understood by listeners. Employees aspire to be part of the story. Happy employees drive happy customers and higher profits. While customer service is easily copied, customer service culture is very difficult to copy. Just look at how many retailers have been able to successfully copy Nordstrom's culture -- exactly none.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2022

    ThredUP asks consumers to boycott Shein’s pop-up shop

    It is great that companies like ThredUP are standing up for what they believe in and it has demonstrated the company prefers collaboration over confrontation. The problem with ultra-fast fashion is the surging consumer demand. Shein is meeting a need in the marketplace which will only grow as discretionary spending is squeezed by the grip of inflation. The only way to reduce waste and change consumer behavior is through education which is what ThredUP tries to do. In this case, the Shein pop is on the home turf of ThredUP which may have raised its hackles prompting ThredUP to use this type of marketing, which will most likely backfire and is not a sustainable tactic (40 percent off).
  • Posted on: 06/24/2022

    Is the metaverse opportunity getting any clearer?

    Two significant considerations for the metaverse are currency and decentralization. Retailers need to understand both of these factors. With that said, early movers are able to use the metaverse as a great branding effort, especially to capture Gen Z and Alphas. We are at least a decade away from seamless in the metaverse but the learning curve will not be as steep as moving to online was in the '90s.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2022

    Are retailers and consumers misaligned on trust?

    Consistency and actionable feedback are trust builders for brands. Trust is consistency in EXPECTED service and having products in stock at a price that the target market sees as valuable (not cheap, but the exchange of dollar for the product is of high value). Today's customers want to be heard and want to see action from feedback. Employees want to see companies DO what they say and DO the RIGHT THING. Here is the problem with trust, it takes a long time to build and no time to crumble.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2022

    Does Amazon need a great Prime Day now more than ever?

    No question that Amazon needs to do GREAT for Prime Day this year. With a slowing sales trend, sluggish subscription service revenue compared to last year, and online sales dropping 1 percent for Q1, Prime Day needs to be a winner in sales, profit and new memberships. The most important factor for Amazon is demonstrating to its Prime members the value-add of being a Prime member. Prime Day allows Amazon to gain more subscribers just in time for the holiday season.
  • Posted on: 06/10/2022

    New PetSmart program is all about helping vets help pets

    The PVS is a triple win for PetSmart, the franchisee and the customer. PetSmart is able to provide veterinary services for its customers without having to build out the business internally allowing the trained, certified experts to run the business. The franchisee has a better chance at success given the resources, tools and customer base to build their business in a cost-effective manner. Customers are able to receive services and help small business owners become successful. The only major downside is when the service delivered does not meet the expectations of PetSmart or the customers.

Contact Shelley E.


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